Hot Cross Buns!

hot cross buns

(This is a post that first appeared in 2009 – we hope it is fresh for some and a welcome memory for others!)

“Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, everybody loves hot cross buns!” are the words to the children’s song and it is so true. I made these buns at the request of many of you and my kids devoured them within minutes. They are the buns traditionally served at Easter time. A sweet dough, spiced, studded with dried (sometimes candied) fruit and decorated with a cross made of icing.

As I researched these delicious buns I realized that there are as many ways to make them as there are families who bake them. Some people slash the dough to make the cross, others use a flour and water paste to create the symbol and others use the sweet icing. Tell me how you make your buns, and if you don’t have a family tradition yet, you can start with these!

Hot Cross Buns:

I made the buns using the brioche dough on page 189. I added the following to the bucket and mixed as usual:

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon all-spice

1 cup currants

2 teaspoons orange zest.

(You could also use the Panettone recipe on page 201, adding the above spices.)

Flour paste for making the cross:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons water

mix together until smooth

Lyle’s Golden Syrup – for brushing over the baked buns

Icing for the top of baked buns:

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk or water

mix together until smooth

To make the buns:

hot cross buns

I took a 1 pound piece of dough (about a grapefruit size) from the bucket.

hot cross buns

Formed it into a loose ball and cut that in half.

hot cross buns

I continued to cut the pieces in half until I had 8 2-ounce portions.

hot cross buns

then you will form each one into a smooth ball.

hot cross buns

Let them rest for 1 hour on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat, Silicone Baking Mat or Parchment Paper Sheets. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once they have rested you will lightly brush them with egg wash and then pipe the flour paste over the top in a cross using a pastry bag and round tip. You can eliminate the paste and slash the dough in a cross pattern instead. I just wanted to try this traditional method, but it does require an extra step.

hot cross buns

Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. While they are still warm I brushed them with Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey) with a Pastry Brush (it may be easier to brush on if you warm up the syrup just a little),

hot cross buns

and pipe the icing over the cross.

hot cross buns

Just like the song says, you want to eat these hot! Enjoy!

Happy Passover and a Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate these holidays!

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157 thoughts on “Hot Cross Buns!

  1. Thank you so much! I was just searching this your magnificent site today looking for a recipe! I am very excited to have some hot out of the oven.

  2. Hi,
    Wonderful idea, I didn’t know that this sugar bread is traditional in Easter time, very pretty.

    In Portugal the traditional in Easter (Páscoa) is the “Folar” (, with eggs on top.

    I had bought your book, arrived yesterday. I read the first 40 pages, and I’m loving it.
    Today I’d made the first bread from it. The dough was a little wet, because the bread spreads sideways. I had enough flour when shaping. Next time I’ll add a little more flour when mixing the dough.
    The top was very crispy, the crumb was very soft and elastic, but the base of the bread was thin and humidly. I baked on a silicone sheet 🙁 I don’t have a baking stone, yet.


  3. Thanks!! I was searching for a way to do this the other day – I ended up making some hot choc buns using plain white bread dough.

  4. I *finally* got your book! I’m so excited to try your recipes. Thanks for writing something that a working mom might be able to do!

  5. your book has changed my life. i’m baking a loaf of *whole wheat sandwich bread* right now. when I say the next thing i may sound like a fool or homemaker, neither of which i am: my 2 year old son literally [his word] asks for it by name.

  6. Hi Renato,

    Your Easter bread sounds wonderful. You may want to watch one of the videos we’ve done to see what the bread dough should look like. This may help you when mixing up your next batch.

    Hi Liz C,

    Yes, I would use honey if you don’t have Lyle’s golden syrup.

    Thank you all and Happy Easter!


  7. Hello! I did not quite understand the meaning of the flour paste. Have never seen it before. Is it just to mark the place where the icing goes or?.. What if I do not use flour paste at all, just icing?

  8. Dana: Hoppy Easter to you too!

    TiV: Looks like the flour paste raises and defines the cross– sure, you can skip it and just use icing but it won’t be quite so dramatic.

  9. Hi TIV,

    Honestly, I had the same question, which is why I tried it. In England mostly, they use this flour paste instead of the icing. So I was really gilding the lily, as they say. You can skip the paste for sure!

    I added a picture so you can see that the paste bakes on in a cross pattern.

    Have a great holiday! Zoë

  10. WOW – thanks – Just was looking in your book for the recipe, last night and Viola – went to your blog and here it is! Happy Easter.

  11. Jeff, I have made a few of your breads already and each time I make it, I get so excited that I actually created it!

    I’ve taken the basic recipe, made cheese bread, cinnamon swirl bread, made it into biscuits!!

    These hot cross buns look amazing!! Thanks so much!!

  12. I have been spending some quality time with your book. I borrowed it from the library but I think I need to own it. I just love it! I made another bread from the dough cottage cheese and dill bread. You and Jeff produced an amazing book with some seriously good ideas!

  13. Heh! We made a batch of hot cross buns earlier this week using the challah recipe as a base (substituting milk for water and a cup of plain flour for wholemeal), but with exactly the same combination of fruit and spices.

    We used a glaze of 4 tbsp milk and 3 tbsp sugar; boil, simmer a minute or so til syrupy, brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. They were fantastic!

    Will try this brioche version today – just need to find a store that’s open on Good Friday so I can get more eggs…

  14. This looks great! I made some HCBs this week and just used the basic bread mix, threw in a handful of caster sugar, some mixed spice and a cup of mixed dried fruit. They turned out great!

    For the glaze I used 3 tablespoons of caster sugar, 1 tsp of mixed spice and about 1/3 cup of water, heated on the stove while the buns are cooking and then brushed on the hot buns. In Australia we don’t have the icing on our buns, just the flour paste cross.

    I LOVE your book!

  15. These look AMAZING! I’m just getting started with your bread baking method and your book and am LOVING it!! Thank you for the wonderful blog sites and I look forward to your next book.

  16. Made the hot cross buns as a treat for my fellow choir members after the church service today. They were very easy to maek and came out not only looking good, but tasted quite well

  17. Well, just made this brioche version, and it leaves the challah version I made earlier for dead. So light, but so rich – and so easy! Think we’ll stick with the milk / sugar glaze instead of golden syrup, though. Might experiment with doubling the fruit quantity, too.

  18. These turned out fabulous! My only slight issues was that I might cut back a bit on the currants next time. Mine were pretty dry, so they really filled up a cup measure and then once they rehydrated in the dough — there were currants everywhere. Live and learn — choose your currants carefully. 😉 I used honey since I couldn’t find my jar of Lyle’s and served them with Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd. Absolutely delicious! I just love this brioche dough. It bakes up so tender and soft. It makes AMAZING Sticky Rolls, too.

    Rock on, Zoe!

  19. Sweet roll question. For these HCB or the pecan caramel rolls in the book (p 187), is there any way they could be partially made the day before? I’d love hot, fresh buns for Easter morning breakfast, but don’t want to get up before dawn to shape/rest them, or have the family wait too long to eat. Could the pecan rolls be rolled, cut and in the pan – then rest in the fridge overnight? If so, how long would you suggest for the rest in the morning before baking? Similar question for the HCB — could they be formed and rest? Or for either or both, would it be best to actually parbake them and the reheat/finish in the morning? If that’s the case, any suggestion of timing and would they have to be in the fridge overnight once parbaked? Sorry for so many questions. I love your book and I want to have the BEST use of these recipes for a holiday breakfast!

  20. Hi Elizabeth,
    I did this last year at Easter. I did all the shaping the night before and let them rise in the fridge. Took them out, went to church, and then baked them. Excellent!!! Happy Springtime to all. Jody, forget the diet for the day. I always thing about all those passengers on the Titanic who passed on the dessert cart. That’s my philosophy and I am sticking to it!!! 🙂

  21. Hi Zoe,

    I am an expat Aussie and hotcross buns are available in Australian supermarkets and bakeries (of which there are thousands!) from January through to April every year. Since moving here I really missed them so I have been making them myself for the last five years since the ones I found here are too sweet! You would never find frosted crosses on them in Australia or the UK like you do here but that is the American penchant for all things sweet! I always just use a flour and water paste flavored with a little Grand Marnier for the crosses before baking and then brush with a simple water and sugar glaze after they have come out of the oven-but I do like the idea of using the golden syrup (treacle)for the glaze and will do that next time. The only thing that I never liked about the hotcross buns at home was the peel (orange and lemon), yuk, yuk! Now that I make them myself I never have to worry about that!

  22. Thanks for the recipe. I had our Sunday School class make these using Jeff’s suggestions a couple of weeks ago. I used the Challah recipe. The kids made a batch and while the dough was resting, I had them ice a couple of dozen of the buns that I had made the day before. Lots of fun and only a little messy. We then served them to our small congregation with soup. They were all eaten within minutes!

  23. Hi Elizabeth,

    So sorry to get back to you so late. I hope you saw Rosemary’s note and went ahead and formed your buns tonight! You can just let them rise on the counter tomorrow morning while your oven is preheating.

    Happy Easter! Zoë

  24. Zoe,
    No reason to apologize. I’m amazed at how responsive you and Jeff are to our comments and suggestions here!
    I did see Rosemary’s suggestion. I did the Challah dough for both pastries.
    For the HCB, I shaped the buns, placed them on the silpat, covered with plastic wrap, and put the whole sheet pan in the fridge overnight. They were wonderful! I don’t know how to post an image without a Web site.
    The caramel rolls (no pecans for my kids) were wonderful too. They looked so small in the pan last night though. I did every step up to the baking last night. So they too were in the pan (on the caramel topping) in the fridge overnight. They rose and filled the pan beautifully even in the fridge. This morning I took them out as soon as I was up, and they were in the oven before the kids had even finished finding the eggs!
    I made a loaf of the remaining HCB dough and a turban-style cinnamon bread and we’re bringing both to the family dinner (along with some light wheat bread).
    Happy Easter to all!

  25. Hi,

    I just have a question about the recipe above.

    The brioche recipe says that it makes 4 loaves. When you add all the spices, etc to make the HCBs, do you add them to the whole lot of the brioche dough, or do you take out the 1 pound piece of dough and add everything to that?

    Thanks 🙂

  26. Hi Madelaine,

    Great question! I was making enough to feed a generation of relatives and mixed up a whole batch of brioche. Our recipes can be divided and then you would want to divide the amount of spices and currants as well.

    Thank you! Zoë

  27. I made some hot cross buns using the challah recipe. I pulled off a 1 pound piece, worked in some spices and shaped and let rise. They baked up beautifully and then I made the challah for Easter dinner. It just isn’t Good Friday without Hot Cross buns and they were fabulous!

  28. This made me laugh, I have had the book for a hile and have been willing to share what I make with some friends. They brought me soem hot cross hockey pucks on Easter. That was their words! And they were hockey pucks for sure, she said it was a huge event to make. I am going to have to make this version and share with them soon! I love the Brioche.

  29. Is it possible to reduce the amount of yeast in the bread? It’s just that when I make kneaded bread, I use an eighth of a teaspoon of yeast for 1 1/2 pounds of dough. I’m going to try your recipe that I found on the Mother Earth News website. Thank you.

  30. I should add that I am probably going to get the book, I just have to wait until I have the money. It’ll be awhile. Thank you for allowing the main recipe to be printed in that magazine.

  31. Hi Everyone, This is a wonderful recipe but I’m not a huge nutmeg fan so I improvised. Here’s a great tip if you’re going to change the seasoning in a bread dough recipe…break off a small (about 1 oz.) piece of dough and microwave it on high for about 30 seconds or until firm to the touch. I know some cooks taste their raw dough and I don’t advocate cooking bread, or pretty much anything else, in the microwave. But this is a really good way to know if you need a little more of this or that in the dough. The texture will not represent the final product but the taste will.

  32. I saw on tv that in NY City they used 00 flour. I can get this and would like to make pizza with it. Can I make it using the recipes in your book with this flour?

  33. 00 flour is very low in protein, and makes a very tender (not stretchy) Italian-style pizza crust. It doesn’t work will for loaves, again because of the low protein.

    But it makes great pizza!

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